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It’s the final day of the Premier League season tomorrow and for the first time in our eight seasons in this league we have something to play for.

In our two relegation seasons, in 2010 and 2015, we were relegated after our 36th games and the closest we’ve come in the last six years, prior to this season, was probably in 2017 when the win at Crystal Palace virtually sorted things out for us.

It’s going to be a tense afternoon. I’ve witnessed it at the bottom of the table in 1998 when two Andy Cooke goals gave us a 2-1 win against Plymouth and, of course, eleven years previously we’d had the Orient game. We’ve also had tense afternoons at the top of the league, none more so than in 2000 when Stan took us up with a 2-1 win at Scunthorpe.

I’ve looked over the season in the last couple of days and never have we looked secure although there were times when there was enough to be more hopeful than at other times. There was twice when I thought we were unlikely to recover. The most recent was when we allowed Norwich to beat us at Carrow Road; the other was when we were beaten 3-1 at Leeds. A friend of mine who had played for Burnley was just in front of me that afternoon. At the final whistle, I just said to him: “We’re in trouble aren’t we?” and his response was just a nod of the head in agreement.

As much as I’ve tried to remain positive, there were times when I didn’t think we’d even get to the final day and times when I thought we’d fall short of our lowest ever Premier League total of 30 points, that in 2009/10.

But we are here and we have a chance. We could even lose against Newcastle and stay up, but if we beat them then we do stay up, nothing surer than that.

I’ve just been looking back to Good Friday, the day Alan Pace sacked Sean Dyche just a few months into a new deal. We had games in hand but Watford and Norwich were just two and three points behind us. Everton had four points more but Leeds were nine points clear, albeit having played two games more.

For weeks, I’ve been consistent in my belief that Everton would not go down. They were one of the instigators of the Premier League just over thirty years ago. They might not be one of the top clubs now but this league wouldn’t want to lose them.

Leeds looked the only likely team and we’ve got closer and closer. We went above both them and Everton but after the defeat at Spurs last Sunday we found ourselves back in the bottom three. That was until the draw at Villa which has now left us knowing that if we can match what Leeds do at Brentford we’ll be ok. It will leave us watching one game while having every bit as much interest in the other.

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Ashley Barnes scored the penalty at Villa that earned us the point. It was his first goal since scoring against Fulham last season, also in a 1-1 draw and he said about his goal yesterday: “It was just another day. That’s my job, I’m there to do that and it’s been a long time coming. I picked up the ball and put it on the spot then from there the main thing is just to stay calm, do what I do in training and put them in.”

He added: “We’ve left it in our own hands by getting that point last night and getting out of the relegation zone. We’ve got one final push at the weekend now, it’s all riding on Sunday. It’ll be packed, it’ll be buzzing and we’ve got an opportunity to give back to the fans.”

What will the team be? Dale Stephens was back on the bench at Villa but none of the other injured players were fit to return with only Jay Rodriguez considered to have any chance tomorrow and then it’s only 50/50.

As it stands, we’ll also be without Matt Lowton who will begin a three match suspension. Michael Jackson did suggest we might appeal the red card he received at Villa but, as yet, nothing has been concerned and he’s likely to miss out.

I imagine, if everyone came through the Villa game, it could be the same team. That’s something Michael Jackson hasn’t done previously but it maybe he will have little option with the lack of senior players available.

We could line up: Nick Pope, Connor Roberts, Nathan Collins, James Tarkowski, Kevin Long, Charlie Taylor, Dwight McNeil, Jack Cork, Josh Brownhill, Ashley Barnes, Maxwel Cornet. Subs from: Wayne Hennessey, Phil Bardsley, Bobby Thomas, Owen Dodgson, Dale Stephens, Anthony Gomez Mancini, Aaron Lennon, Dara Costelloe, Joe McGlynn, Wout Weghorst.

Newcastle beat us 1-0 at St. James’ Park in December. It was their first win of the season and it lifted them off the bottom. They moved ahead of Norwich but remained behind us on goal difference with us all on ten points.

By then, they’d been taken over and we all knew that money would be spent in January. I don’t think we expected Kieran Trippier to be their first signing and I’m sure no Burnley fan expected Chris Wood to make the move there. They also added Bruno Guimarães from Lyon and Dan Burn from Brighton. Those four players cost them not far short of £90 million and they also brought in Aston Villa full back Matt Targett on loan.

Having beaten us, they lost the next three, then drew two but then a win at Leeds kicked off a run of six wins and one draw in the next seven games and it moved them well clear of the bottom although until they beat Arsenal last Monday they had taken only one point from any of the top six, that at Manchester United in September when Steve Bruce was in charge.

They’ve reached twelfth place in the table with 46 points and a win against us could take them up to tenth although we all hope that Brentford, who are currently above them with a much better goal difference, will remain above them.

Former Claret Chris Wood could miss out with a hip injury and there are also concerns over defender Fabian Schär with them observing concussion protocols and Ryan Fraser who has a hamstring injury. Jonjo Shelvey is ruled out.

The Newcastle team against Arsenal last Monday was: Martin Dúbravka, Emil Krafth, Fabian Schär, Dan Burn, Matt Targett, Sean Longstaff, Bruno Guimarães, Joelinton, Miguel Almirón, Callum Wilson, Allan Saint-Maximin. Subs: Karl Darlow, Kieran Trippier, Jamal Lascelles, Federico Fernández, Paul Dummett, Matt Ritchie, Jacob Murphy, Ryan Fraser, Dwight Gayle.

 

LAST TIME THEY WERE HERE

 

It was played in April last year and for the second game in succession we were beaten after going in front. It wasn’t as bad as Southampton the week before when we went 2-0 up before losing 3-2 but in terms of how this game went, it was even worse.

We started so well and went in front on eighteen minutes. Chris Wood latched onto a ball from Ashley Westwood, got down the left and pulled the ball back for Matěj to hit home.

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Throughout the first half, we were so much on top and that continued after the break until Newcastle made a double change, bringing on Allan Saint-Maximin and Callum Wilson. Within two minutes they were level and five minutes later had scored the winning goal with Saint-Maximin playing a part in both.

With his first involvement, he got down the right and pulled the ball back for Jacob Murphy whose shot beat Bailey Peacock-Farrell. Five minutes later, he picked the ball up in the centre circle and, as our defenders backed off him, he moved forward before hitting a shot into the corner. A 2-1 defeat that left us in fifteenth place in the table.

The teams were;

Burnley: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Erik Pieters, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson (Joel Mumbongo 90+1), Josh Brownhill, Ashley Westwood, Dwight McNeil, Chris Wood, Matěj Vydra. Subs not used: Will Norris, Phil Bardsley, Jimmy Dunne, Richard Nartey, Charlie Taylor, Dale Stephens, Jack Cork, Lewis Richardson.

Newcastle: Martin Dúbravka, Jacob Murphy, Federico Fernández, Ciaran Clark, Paul Dummett, Matt Ritchie, Miguel Almirόn (Jeff Hendrick 90+3), Jonjo Shelvey, Sean Longstaff, Joelinton (Allan Saint-Maximin 57), Dwight Gayle (Callum Wilson 57). Subs not used: Karl Darlow, Javier Manquillo, Emil Krafth, Jamal Lewis, Joe Willock, Andy Carroll.

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